Ever been to Accident and Emergency on a weekend? It is incredibly busy with 8/10 people there because of alcohol. Find out what its like from the doctors themselves.


"Its hard to help people who are so drunk they attack you."

"One guy I treated was 32 years old. He had been drinking for about 15 years - since he was a teenager. He had cirrhosis of the liver. This is when scar tissue replaces normal, healthy tissue, blocking the flow of blood through the organ and preventing it from working properly. This caused backpressure on the veins supplying the liver form the gut. The guy had varicose veins, which then burst. He was bleeding from both ends. We couldn't replace the blood fast enough."


"Without treatment, alcoholism can cause brain damage. Alcohol kills your brain cells and you can lose some of your intelligence. You struggle with almost anything to do with thinking, such as writing, speaking, math, and planning."

"Long term drinking can severely damage your brain. One such problem is Werneicke-Korsakoff syndrome - patients arrive very confused. They tend to be very clumsy and can be violent. It's a potentially lethal condition, commonest in heavy drinkers who have a poor diet. People I've treated have had problems doing their jobs and often lose them and have real problems communicating properly with friends and family."

"I don't have much sympathy for those with long term alcohol damage like cirrhosis. They knew the risks."


"Dealing with victims of drink driving is always tough. It's always such a mess. Its so hard when they are young…they had their whole lives ahead of them."

"People think they know their limit for drinking alcohol. They don't. Every night is different - how your feeling, what you've eaten, if girls have their period. There isn't much margin for error - one minute you can feel fine and the next you've collapsed."

"The recommended number of units for a man a week is 21 units. That's 10 pints. For women its just 14 units. People think its fine to drink all of their weekly units and more in one go and everything will be fine. But its not, if you drink that much in one session it's a massive burden on your liver."


"I've heard of alcoholics that have been so desperate for a drink they have drunk methanol. The liver converts methanol to formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is what you use to pickle bodies and stuffed animals. You literally pickle yourself from the inside out. Formaldehyde is used to pickle and preserve stuffed animals. It is what Damian Hirst used to preserve the cow."

"Stomach pumping is horrendous. A long tube is pushed down your throat while you are still conscious. Obviously this is really distressing and we may have to pin the person down, as they are drunk and aggressive or upset. We have to stop the thrashing arms. Water is pushed down into the stomach through the tube. This causes extreme vomiting - we need to get the alcohol out of their system. This gets it out much sooner than your body could. The liver can only deal with one unit an hour. You will have to stay in over night. The doctors must contact someone - if you are under 16 it will have to be your parents."


"Alcoholics often don't eat properly and don't get enough B vitamins. These are the energy vitamins and are vital to a healthy life."

"This girl was 16 and had been hospitalised 4 times by drinking. I think she was drinking to deal with being pregnant. She just needed someone to talk to."

"Foetal alcohol poisoning is really sad. Babies can have altered facial features and mental retardation. They will have poor development in crawling and talking. It's hard when someone's behaviour affects another life. Especially one so young and helpless."